First Time Visiting USA

If you plan to visit the United States of America, here are some things to know before you go.

  1. American is big; it’s a six-hour flight (nonstop) from the east coast to the west coast or three days non-stop by train (New York City to LA). If you plan to drive to multiple locations within different states, you need to google map those trips and see how long they take.
  2. We don’t use the Metric System. Part of the reason against switching is the cost (changing all the signs/packeting, number of miles to X city, speed limits, and measuring devices); the other part is because everyone says we should.
  3. So many names: we go by US, US of A, USA, America, ‘Merica, and the United States.
  4. We don’t have paid toilets; we have public rest areas on major roads with public restrooms, snacks, and grass for your traveling dogs.
  5. We defeated the UK, but we kept some of the customs. We are very firm on lines (or queues); just like Sting, we ask that you Don’t Stand so Close to me, we love our pet dogs, and we clap/cheer when a waiter drops a tray of glassware.
  6. Everything is big; our meals are enormous, you can buy soft drinks by the gallon, we have king-size candy (which is odd as we fought not to have a king), and eight-lane highways with two toll/express lanes in the middle.
  7. How many States do we have? It depends! The US has fifty states, but four technically call themselves commonwealth. Kentucky, Virginia, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania all have Commonwealth in the legal name, but they are still states. There are also fourteen territories, but only five are inhabited (American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), and two of those five also have commonwealth in the official legal name, Northern Mariana Island and Puerto Rico, and then we have D.C.
  8. Washington D.C. No one calls it Washington D.C. It’s just D.C. because it’s shorter to say and avoids any confusion with Washington State. D.C. is not a State or territory but a federal district. They have elected local officials, like Mayor and a Congress member who can’t vote; any local laws can be overturned by the Federal Government (AKA Congress).
  9. We have some misleading states’ names. New Mexico is a state in the US; its neighbors are Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and the Country Mexico. New Mexico may have the word Mexico in the title, but it’s still in the US. We have North and South Dakota, North and South Carolina, and West Virginia and Virginia. These are all separate states; West Virginia is not the western part of Virginia.
  10. Sales tax varies by state; California has the highest rate at 7.25%, a few states have no sales tax, and some even vary on what gets taxed. Pennsylvania has a 6% sales tax rate, but necessities like food, water, and clothes are not taxed. The rates are not noted on any pricing labels.
  11. Arizona doesn’t use daylight savings time, so it’s an hour different from neighboring states for half the year.
  12. There are 12 states with two time zones. Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oregon, and Idaho.
  13. Regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest, West, Southwest, Northwest, and West. The states facing the Atlantic Ocean comprise the East Cost; the Northernmost is Maine, and the Southernmost is Florida. The northernmost third is the Northeast, the middle chunk is the Mid-Atlantic, and the bottom third is the Southeast. The Midwest is the middle, out towards the western part. The states that share a border with Mexico are Southwest, and everything north of California is Northwest.
  14. The Fourth of July is the national holiday or banking day; it is celebrated with cookouts (AKA Barbecues), drinking, parades, fireworks, and everyone wearing something in the red, white, and blue color scheme. So this is your warning; it gets loud.
  15. We don’t celebrate VE Day (Victory in Europe) Day because WWII didn’t end for us; we were still fighting in the Pacific. We do have Memorial Day in May, and Nov 11 is Veterans Day, not Remembrance Day.
  16. We have Labour Day, but it’s not May 1st because it got a bit communist, so our Labour Day is in September.
  17. Public Transportation is usually for workers during the work week (M-F), so check the weekend schedule.

Published by JMP traveler

I’m a world traveler and an amateur photographer, to date, I've visited seven continents and thirty-four countries. Due to bills (and a desire to eat), I am forced to work a mundane nine-to-five job to pay for my true passion. This blog is a way for me to share my crazy creative side, my travel photos with cheeky stories, travel tips, or details on how the photo was taken. Come join me as we travel the world together, without having to leave the house or get out of your PJs.

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